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How to Open a Bank Account
Olya Bezvushko

     American banks offer many types of accounts, such as checking, saving, money market account and many others. A US bank account allows managing your finances much easier, and you’d better set one as soon as you arrive. You can deposit money paid by checks (scholarship, financial aid) and money from home.

     When you have a bank account, you can pay your bills by check, and nowadays most bank accounts offer online services so that you can manage all your bill payments online. There is no need to carry cash any more, as most debit cards have the MasterCard or Visa emblem. It means that you can use the card to make purchases against your account anywhere that accepts credit cards.  Thus, you can avoid danger connected with cash, like stilling (you can always renew your card and protect money, in case the card would have been stolen) or cash disputes in the stores.  

     A “debit card” or “check card” allows you to withdraw or deposit money to your bank account using ATM (automatic teller machine). Credit cards will allow you to make purchase even if you have no money immediately available. Keep in mind, that credit interest rates are very high and can leave you without abundance of debt.   

     If you have decided to open an account, go in person to the local branch. Besides, many banks advertise the easy account openings by phone or email, such services have nothing to do with international students. You do not fit completely into a category for US banks, so it will be better if you try to establish a face to face relationship. In the bank, you will need to have a passport and the funds you want to deposit, furthermore you’ll better bring as many of the following documents as you have, among them: your visa, state driving license, school id, I-20 and I-94. Usually banks do not require having social security number. 

     Many schools have relationships with banks where they refer their international students. It’s easier to open an account in the bank that used to see international students. You should certainly consider that bank first.

     Compare the services and costs offered by different banks. Examine the accounts the bank has available, with an eye towards how much it could cost you to keep the account, what are per-check fees, per-transaction fees and ATM fees, either there is settled minimum deposit to open the account. 

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